Tag: Baen Books

Horror at an English Country Manor


Ishmael Jones hunts monsters. He solves mysteries and uncovers dark secrets. He works for Britain’s Organization, which does not officially exist within government. He feels like he is doing some good there, and working for the Organization allows him to maintain his anonymity.

“The Dark Side of the Road”, a science fiction novel by Simon R. Green introduces Ishmael Jones. Jones is a man apart; someone who respects only the Colonel, the Organization’s chief. Jones has worked with the Colonel on numerous field assignments. Two days before Christmas the Colonel contacts Jones requesting Jones join the Colonel for Christmas at the Colonel’s family home.

It is the first time the Colonel has invited Jones to meet his family. It must be important. The Colonel asks as a personal favor and says he will discuss the reason why Jones is needed when Jones arrives. Jones leaves London that night in a rented car for the drive to Belcourt Manor in rural Cornwall. Despite a vicious blizzard that has the roads shut down.

Adventure in Planetary Space


Dave Walker is a newly-minted spaceship engineering officer, aboard his first vessel: a clapped-out tramp freighter near the end of its useful life. While not much, it gets him off Earth, his life’s ambition. His other reason to make a pierhead jump to this ship? His stepfather is trying to kill him.

“Summer’s End,” a science-fiction novel by John Van Stry, is set in the near future, several centuries from the present. Humans reside throughout the Solar System, but Earth still dominates, especially in terms of population.

There is one world government on Earth. Ostensibly a republic modeled on the United States, in actuality it is an oligarchy, run by the elies, the upper-class elite. Most of the world’s population are doles, supported by the government for the votes that keep the elies in power. Dave is prole, the fraction making up the middle class. The only ones on Earth that work, their labor keeps the planet running. They work whether they want to work and for what the government gives them. Or else. That is why Dave wants to leave Earth so badly.

Ring of Fire In Transylvania


In 2001 Eric Flint wrote a one-off novel titled “1632,” featuring a West Virginia town transposed in time and space to Thirty Years War Germany. It spawned numerous sequels, resulting in multiple series captured under the Ring of Fire umbrella. It even gave birth to a new publishing house focused on these stories.

“1637: The Transylvanian Decision,” by Eric Flint and Robert E. Waters, is the latest book in the series. It is also the last book written by Flint. He died in July 2022.

Over six years since the Ring of Fire, up-timer Morris Roth, transformed himself from Grantville jeweler too the commander of the Grand Army of the Sunrise, stationed in Bohemia. Roth, who is Jewish, created the army to prevent the 1648 Chmielnicki Pogrom. He is trying to carve out a Jewish homeland in territories east of Bohemia, in what in the future became Russia’s Pale of Settlement.

A Noir Mystery Set in Space


From the moment Dagny Blake entered Ezekiel “Easy” Novak’s office he knew she was trouble.  He took her job anyway. Her looks had nothing to do with it. Well, not much.

“Trouble Walked In,” by Mike Kupari, recasts the classic 1940s hard-boiled detective story in a science fiction setting. Novak is a private detective in Delta City, the largest city on the planet of Nova Columbia. He has a one-investigator office. His only employee is his researcher-receptionist Lily.

Seeking Revenge Becomes Something Else


Gregory Roarke is a Trailblazer. He and his Kadolian partner Selene conduct surveys of unexplored worlds. It does not pay as well as bounty hunting, the pair’s previous career. Trailblazing covers the bills, barely. And that only if you include the money they make diverting samples from their hiring client for resale elsewhere and unskilled short-term jobs they take between trailblazing contracts. It is safer than bounty hunting. That cost Roarke an arm before he quit.

“The Icarus Plot,” by Timothy Zahn, follows Roarke and Selene. As the book opens, they are one step away from getting their spaceship seized to cover debts. Things get worse when Roarke gets fired from his job as server cum bouncer at a bar. They stand to lose everything.

A reprieve comes through a thuggish sort named Geri.  He and an associate named Freki hire Roarke and Selene to survey of Bonvere Seven, a Terran-type planet. They pay well, and Selene is able to identify a very marketable seed, samples of which they extract and hide from their employers. Only the whole point of hiring them for the survey was to catch the two in an illegal attempt to hide samples from the employer.

The Wild West in Outer Space


John Abbott is the All-American boy of the future. He is scrupulously honest yet ambitious, getting ahead on his abilities. An accountant, he is a family man, with a wife, two young daughters, a family dog and a mountain of student loan debt.

“Abbott in Darkness,” a science fiction novel by D. J. Butler follows Abbott and his family as John Abbott pursues a career to pay off his debts. He has taken a job with an American interstellar corporation, moving his family to a planet circling a remote star. The move offers an opportunity to get rich quickly.

Valhalla Unmasked


Take a typical college-aged man from the Midwest in today’s America. Give him the ambition to slay dragons and become a knight errant. It is unrealistic, but it is his dream. Then let him discover magic really works. He slays a fire-breathing dragon (with his mom’s Volvo), and is invited to join Knight Watch, an organization dedicated to protecting ordinary Americans from intrusions by supernatural enemies

“Valhellions,” a fantasy novel by Tim Akers, uses this setting. It is the sequel to “Knight Watch,” which introduced John Rast and Knight Watch. John’s dream job is not turning out quite as he dreamed. He has to hide magic from the mundane world which dampens the fun. His parents think he is a highly-paid troubleshooter for a tech firm. (He is – sort of.) The girl he adores, Chesa Lozaro joined Knight Watch as an elven ranger princess (that was her dream). Despite working together, she still disdains him.

If anything can go wrong, it does, especially to John. His life has become a collision between Tolkien and the Marx Brothers, with him playing the straight man. Now the world is about to end. Some renegades at Valhalla are trying to trigger Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods. It is up to John and his team to stop it.

Combat Throughout Time Travel


Time travel stories are almost as old as science fiction. One of H. G. Wells’s earliest involved time travel. So is combat SF.

“Time Troopers,” edited by Hank Davis and Christopher Ruocchio, is a science fiction anthology combining the two themes: time travel and combat. Davis and Ruocchio assembled a stellar collection of tales ranging from short-short stories to novellas.

It is filled with stories by an all-star cast of authors. Contributors include twentieth-century science fiction giants Robert Heinlein, Keith Laumer, Poul Anderson, Fritz Leiber, A. E. Van Vogt, Robert Silverberg, and H. Beam Piper. 21st-century contributors include Davis and Ruocchio, Sara and Robert Hoyt, John C. Wright and Jacob Holo. Historian T. R. Fehrenbach and author Edmund Hamilton also provide stories.

A Return Trip to the Past and Future


In Michael Z. Williamson’s novel “A Long Time Until Now” First Lieutenant Sean Elliott and nine US soldiers traveling in a convoy in Afghanistan suddenly found themselves flung into the Earth’s Paleolithic Age. Other time-displaced people from throughout history were with them. All had been accidentally displaced through a time travel experiment conducted by the Cogi, people in the far future. The Cogi eventually rescued them.

“That Was Now This Is Then,” by Michael Z. Williamson picks up the story after the soldiers’ return.  Some have been discharged; others remained in the Armed Forces. All are trying to pick up their lives.

Now they are being recruited for a new mission in the past. The Cogi need help. It turns out Elliot and his team were not the only American soldiers stuck in the past. The Cogi have found another group. Worse, a Paleolithic human displaced forward in time shows up in a now-time American base.

The Hunt for the Mesan Alignment


The sprawling science fiction series involving Honor Harrington started in 1993, with “On Basilisk Station.” Nearly thirty years later it is still going strong with nearly thirty novels and six anthologies in five different threads.

“To End in Fire,” by David Weber and Eric Flint is the Honorverse’s latest arrival. Part of the “Crown of Slaves” strand of the saga, its focus is on the genetic slavery in the far future. The slave-sponsoring planet Mesa, and the self-emancipated slaves of planet Torch, feature prominently.

Earlier in the series Honor Harrington’s Manticorian conquered Empire Mesa. Manticorian with their starfaring allies in the Grand Alliance also defeated the Earth-based Solarian Empire. The Grand Alliance was formed after the Solarians – headquartered on Earth and making up the Core Worlds of human-occupied space – attacked Manticore.  That war and earlier wars between Manticore and Haven were triggered by the Mesa-based Alignment. Mesa was taken to subdue the Alignment.

A Fresh Take on an Old Classic


Daniel Carter is a London copper. It is today’s London, but a London inhabited by clans of underground monsters. They run criminal rackets: the Frankenstein Clan, with its surgeries, the seductive Vampire Clan, the drug-dealing Clan of Mummies and the Werewolf Clan, who serve as hit men and enforcers.

“Jekyll & Hyde Inc.,” a fantasy novel by Simon R. Green, opens with Carter, his partner, and two fellow cops raiding a Frankenstein chop shop. Their attempt to break up the illicit den where victims are cut up for transplant organs goes badly. One is killed, two others vanish in the building’s ruins and Carter is left crippled.

Carter is also suspended. The raid was supposedly unauthorized. The commissioner who organized and authorized it also disappeared. Carter’s career is in ruins, he is in constant pain, and his family has rejected him. Then his vanished partner appears. He has been absorbed into the underground, involuntarily turned into a vampire. Like the ghost of Jacob Marley, he appears to offer Carter a chance at redemption – or perhaps more accurately revenge.

Teens Saving the Earth’s Future in a Devastated World


John Ringo’s “Black Tide Rising” series presents a world devastated by a bio-engineered viral plague. The plague destroys upper-brain functions turning the infected into mindless cannibals—effectively zombies. It’s highly contagious. It’s contracted through blood-to-blood contact with the infected—usually as they attack those not infected, to eat them. The series focuses on how survivors cope with the collapse of society.

“At the End of the Journey,” by Charles E. Gannon, is the latest arrival in the “Black Tide Rising” series. It follows the story of American teenagers who begin a senior year summer cruise aboard sailing ketch Crosscurrent Voyager just before the plague strikes. Sailing alone from the Galapagos to the South Sandwich Islands, they’re able to avoid the plague

This was related to an earlier novel, “At the End of the World.” In it, the ship’s ex-Special Air Service captain dies of a preexisting condition, but not before preparing his teenage charges to run the boat themselves and to fend off both the infected and those remaining human that mercilessly prey on the weak after society’s collapse.

An Arthurian Tale in a Science Fiction Future


In the far future, civilization experienced a catastrophic collapse in the centuries-ago past.  Jon of Dun Add is reforging isolated pockets of human habitation into a unified and civilized whole. His Hall of Champions is a tool in this effort. This fellowship enforces justice across Jon’s realm. Pal is one of Jon’s newest knights, and one of the most respected.

“The Serpent” by David Drake is the third novel Drake’s Time of Heroes series. It presents Pal’s adventures in this possible future. It follows “The Spark” which introduced Pal and “The Storm,” which showed Pal maturing into his current role.

Hunting Aliens and Traitors for Fun and Profit


Earth had been invaded by aliens from outer space, the Visitors. After a devastating war, humanity drove the invaders off. The victory was costly, but eventually the Visitors withdrew to Mars.

“The Family Business,” a science fiction novel by Mike Kupari, takes place in that invasion’s aftermath. Nathan Foster is a bounty hunter. He occasionally tracks down murderers and drug dealers, but his primary quarry are war criminals and human traitors who collaborated with the Visitors.

Located in Prescott, Arizona, it is a family business. His understudy and assistant is his fifteen-year-old teenage nephew Ben, Nathan’s only surviving relative.  Also assisting Nathan is Shadow, a genetically enhanced Doberman-Shepherd mix, a trained attack dog. His partner and office manager is Stella Rickles.

Cruising the Ancient Mediterranean in a Modern Cruise Ship


Eric Flint’s Assiti Shards stories are alternate history series where people from the present are cast into the past by shards of time-shifting artwork striking the Earth. It started with “1632,” with a West Virginia small town transposed with space from Thirty Years War Germany. In 2017, a new branch of the series began. In “The Alexander Inheritance,” cruise ship Queen of the Sea gets sent back to the ancient Mediterranean, the year after Alexander the Great’s death.

“The Macedonian Hazard,” by Eric Flint, Gorg Huff, and Paula Goodlett continues Queen of the Sea’s ancient voyage. It follows the cruise ship’s adventures navigating the narrow waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the narrow minds of Seleucid leaders attempting to control pieces of Alexander the Great’s disintegrating empire.

The Queen of the Sea won uneasy neutrality in “The Alexander Inheritance,” becoming a floating embassy for the various civilizations ringing the Mediterranean. It hosts passengers from most, serving as a platform where they parley. It also crossed the Atlantic to establish a settlement on Trinidad, from which it extracts fuel to keep the ship going.

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Being the Bad Guy for a Good Cause


Larry Correia is best known for hard-edged urban fantasy. His Monster Hunter and Hard Magic series involve lots of firearms and fantastic creatures.

“Gun Runner,” by Larry Correia and John Brown is hard science fiction, set in a distant future that has interstellar travel. Yet Correia stays true to form. It is hard-edged and involves lots of firearms and fantastic creatures.

Captain Nicholas Holloway owns Multipurpose Supply VehicleTar Heel, an interstellar cargo ship. He is a gun runner. He and his crew are not in it just for the money. They provide banned weapons to societies who need them to fight animals on their home planets or to battle crazies with better political connections to Earth Bloc bureaucrats.

A New World Battle in an Alternate Timeline


Eric Flint launched his Ring of Fire series in 2000 with his novel “1632.” Intended as a stand-alone novel, it tells the story of Grantville, a West Virginia town switched in time and place with an equal area of space in Thirty-Years War Germany. 1632 proved addictive to readers and writers. Flint wrote a sequel, inviting David Weber to collaborate. Readers ate it up. Flint then opened his playground to other writers, curating the results.  As of 2020 there are over 30 books in the series.

“1637: No Peace Beyond the Line,” by Eric Flint and Charles E. Gannon, is the latest addition to the series. It is a sequel to “1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies,” published in 2014.

“No Peace Beyond the Line” picks up where “Commander Cantrell” left off. Captain Eddie Cantrell is holding together a coalition made up of Germans, Dutch, Danes, Irish, and renegade English colonists. The English have defied their national government to remain in the New World. The Irish are members Wild Geese, Irish mercenaries estranged from English-occupied Ireland, formerly in the service of France. Led by the chief pretender to the Irish throne (held by King Charles of England) they are running a settlement in Trinidad, producing and exporting oil, with the cooperation of the local natives.

This Week’s Book Review: Stellaris


The Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop are a group who believe man can and must go to the stars. In 2016 the TVIW held a track on Homo Stellaris. Its task was to describe the foundations of a space-based society.

“Stellaris: People of the Stars,” edited by Les Johnson and Robert E. Hampson, is one of the fruits of that year’s workshop. It is a collection of non-fiction essays and science fiction stories about what it takes for humans to travel and live outside the Solar System.

Both non-fiction and fiction limit themselves to the possible based on today’s science. Extrapolation is permitted, especially in the life sciences. Faster-than-light travel and communications was excluded on the grounds that these cannot occur without some type of fundamental breakthrough in physics.

A New Addition to the “Black Tide Rising” Canon


John Ringo’s “Black Tide Rising” series posits a zombie apocalypse caused by a highly-contagious, genetically-engineered viral plague that destroys the upper brain functions and turns its victims into mindless cannibals. Ringo has since invited other authors to come and play in the highly-popular “Black Tide Rising” sandbox.

“At the End of the World,” by Charles E. Gannon is the latest entry in the “Black Tide Rising” series.  It follows nine teens on a summer senior year learning cruise when the plague breaks out. Told through the journal of Alvaro Casillas, one of the teens on the cruise, it follows their course through a nightmare world aboard Crosscurrent Voyager.

Crosscurrent Voyager is on a trip from the Galapagos to South Georgia Island in the Atlantic Ocean near Antarctica. Its captain, Alan Haskins, is a silent, gaunt Englishman. All the others on Crosscurrent Voyager are similarly outcasts. They have discipline problems, or are overlooked, bullied, and ignored by their peers. They are aboard because Crosscurrent Voyager was the sole remaining adventure cruise available.